Working on Country

Working on Country funded projects - NT Northern Land Council

Projects in the Northern Territory

Northern Territory Top End Aboriginal Land and Sea Management - Northern Land Council

Gulf of Carpentaria sunset

Gulf of Carpentaria sunset

Copyright:Matt Salmon

The Northern Land Council is the representative body for traditional owners across more than 200 communities in the Top End of the Northern Territory. The Northern Land Council has provided support to Aboriginal ranger teams for almost two decades, and currently Working on Country supports 14 Aboriginal ranger groups to manage land and sea country of high cultural and environmental significance across the Top End. The rangers work across an area of 210,000 square kilometres including 2,702 kilometres of coastline.

The 14 Aboriginal community ranger groups supported under the Northern Land Council's Working on Country program provide a range of land and sea country management services across this region including: fire management, protection of threatened species and their habitats, control of significant feral animals and invasive weeds, management of saltwater intrusion in freshwater billabongs, marine debris clean-ups, recording and protection of important cultural sites, the passing on of cultural knowledge to the next generation and coastal patrols.

Details of each ranger group's responsibilities and activities are provided here.

Bulgul Land and Sea Rangers

Based in Bulgul, this ranger group manages 36 000ha's across the Delissavale/Wagait/Larrakia Land Trust. The Rangers' main activity is the control and management of Mimosa pigra involving aerial spraying of large areas and ground control work along creek lines and floodplain margins, in partnership with the NT Weeds Branch. Fortnightly patrols of the beaches to record and remove debris is also an important part of the Bulgul Rangers' activities.

Garawa and Waanyi/Garawa Rangers

Ranger undertaking prescribed burning on Garawa

Ranger undertaking prescribed burning on Garawa, Aboriginal Land Trust, Courtesy of Waanyi Garawa and Garawa Rangers

These ranger groups work together and are based at Robinson River community and Borroloola. Together, they manage over 16 000km2 of Waanyi and Garawa country, including the China Wall region, a site of conservation significance. The main activities of the rangers are weed monitoring and control and fire management. The weeds being addressed are Parkinsonia and Rubber vine, both Weeds of National Significance. The rangers are trained in the use of the Raindance machine, a device for ejecting incendiaries out of a helicopter for implementing their cool early dry season burning program. In addition to the helicopter work, a large amount of the rangers' fire work is done by on ground burning that involves both senior traditional owners and young people to secure important sites, habitats and critical infrastructure against the threat of wildfire.

Garngi Rangers

The Garngi Rangers are based at Minjilang on Croker Island (which is recognised as a site of national conservation significance) and manage approximately 110 000ha's of land and sea country. The rangers undertake an early dry season burning program each year on both the adjacent mainland and the island. They continue to monitor and treat Mimosa pigra, Mission grass and Coffee bush and undertake extensive marine debris surveys and clean ups each year. The rangers are involved in a turtle survey and monitoring program at McClure and Grant Islands, and also work closely with the Aboriginal Area Protection Authority in registering multiple sacred sites and installing appropriate signage.

Gumurr Marthakal Rangers

Ranger Lirrwa holds a Northern Quoll caught during surveys

Ranger Lirrwa holds a Northern Quoll caught during surveys

Copyright: Phil Wise

Based at Galiwinku on Elcho Island, the rangers manage 800 000ha's of land and sea country. In consultation with the broader community, they are currently developing an Indigenous Protected Area plan of management. The rangers do extensive work monitoring and removing ghost nets from their patrol area.

In 2010 they won a Ghostnets Australia competition due to their efforts with the removal of 654 nets, weighing 48.5 tonnes, across 360km of coastline and went on a ranger exchange to Indonesia.

The rangers' weed management work includes managing Coffee bush and monitoring billabongs for the potential arrival of Mimosa. The rangers are involved in an annual monitoring program of the threatened Northern Quoll, after a successful relocation program to two islands to protect the quolls from the poisonous cane toad.

Malak Malak Land Management

This ranger team is based at Daly River and manages 30 000ha. A major focus of the group is the monitoring and treatment of Weeds of National Significance within the Daly River area. Mimosa pigra, Parkinsonia, Gamba grass, Grader grass and Salvinia are all targeted annually by the group with significant success in reducing the areas of infestations.

Mardbalk Rangers

At Warruwi on Goulburn Island, the Mardbalk rangers manage 440 000ha's of land and sea country. The rangers monitor and survey areas of cultural significance with the help of traditional owners and in conjunction with the Aboriginal Area Protection Authority.

The rangers meet barges coming to Goulburn Island and undertake inspections to ensure no Cane toads arrive. Feral animal culls occur regularly on the mainland at the northern end of Murganella floodplain. Their regular sea patrols involve surveillance of the surrounding area and all non-compliance offences are reported to the Northern Land Council and other authorities for further investigation.

Mimal Rangers

This team is based at Weemol near Bulman and manages over 600 000ha's of country. The rangers have assessed over 20 cultural sites and have undertaken protection fencing at several of these sites to protect the sites from damage by feral animals. The rangers are involved in the development of database of local Indigenous language names for plants, animal and cultural sites in conjunction with the Bulman school. They are one of the five ranger groups that are delivering the internationally recognised West Arnhem Land Fire Abatement project (WALFA), a project that is receiving payment for reducing the amount of greenhouse gas emissions entering the atmosphere by implementing a traditional fire management regime.

Numbulwar Numburindi Amalahgayag Injung Rangers

These rangers are based at Numbulwar and manage 330 000ha's of land and sea country. Sea patrols are conducted jointly with nearby Yugal Mangi rangers and feral pig culls are undertaken with guidance from Traditional Owners. The rangers are currently developing a plan of management for managing Mimosa, Rubber vine and Pond Apple infestations on the coast between Blue Mud Bay and the mouth of the Roper River.

Wanga Djakamirr, Gurruwiling and South East Arafura Rangers

These ranger groups work from around the pristine Arafura Swamp, a wetland of National significance and featured in the film Ten Canoes. The rangers' activities include the monitoring of saltwater intrusion into the swamp, feral animal management focusing on buffaloes and pigs, weed monitoring and control of Mimosa pigra and Olive hymenachne and a significant annual strategic burning program.

Wagiman Rangers

The Wagiman rangers are based at Leewin Springs near Pine Creek, and manage 130 000ha's of country on the Wagiman Aboriginal Land Trust. The rangers are involved in fencing projects to protect sacred sites, as well as implementing an annual prescribed burning program. The main weeds of concern on the Land Trust are Mimosa pigra, Mission and Gamba Grass, with infestations targeted by spraying and regularly monitored. The rangers are working in partnership with CSIRO to monitor the threatened Freshwater Sawfish in the Daly River.

Yugal Mangi Rangers

Managing land and sea country, this ranger team is based at Ngukurr. The rangers have completed a major project recording significant sites in the Roper and Wilton Rivers region as well as neighbouring coastal islands. The Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority has been working alongside the rangers and 18 sites are currently being managed. Control of Mimosa pigra and Rubber bush is ongoing, as is maintenance of fencing erected around three billabongs to exclude feral animals to demonstrate to landowners the damage that feral animals cause. Surveys of species such as freshwater sawfish and mud crabs have been undertaken and removal of ghost nets and other marine debris is an annual activity.